GOWANUS – A traveling interactive exhibition examining the history and legacy of redlining will debut at the Old American Can Factory on Thursday, July 18.
Undesign the Redline is an interactive exhibit and workshop that “explores the history of structural racism and classism” that was fostered by the practice of redlining. The installation was developed by Designing the We [We], a NYC-based design studio that works for “social innovation and community driven social, cultural and economic development.”
Introduced as a federal policy in the 1930s, redlining maps were used across the country to identify “risk areas for federal backing” in recently established home ownership programs aimed at “transform[ing] the American middle class,” according to We’s website. The maps outlined areas where money would be invested and those “where no money would be lent.”
The neighborhoods that were deemed unworthy of investment—described as inhabited by “hazardous populations”—were outlined in red, designations “based almost entirely on race,” according to We. With funding being invested into white suburbs and none going toward “inner city” neighborhoods, redlining introduced “structural racism” into cities, segregated and marginalized communities, and created a “racially and class divided society.”
Undesign the Redline will tell the history of redlining and allow visitors to interact with the stories being told and encourage participants to share their own experiences or help find solutions to “undoing structural inequities.”
The exhibit will explain how current income, housing, educational, and criminal justice inequalities are linked to redlining. Presented by the Fifth Avenue Committee, Enterprise Community Partners, and XØ Projects at The Old American Can Factory in Gowanus, Undesign the Redline traces the history of the “racist policy” that led to these inequalities and “explores frameworks for ‘undesigning’ these legacies that connect to current [rezoning] proposals” that will impact the future of the Gowanus neighborhood.
Undesign the Redline has been exhibited at pop-up storefronts, vacant buildings, conferences, corporate headquarters, and on the street. Several parts of the exhibit “have been inspired by and added to by those who have visited previous installations.”
Undesign the Redline will be on view from Thursday, July 18 through Wednesday, August 14 at the Old American Can Factory, 248 3rd Street (between 3rd & 4th Avenues), Gowanus.
Learn more at designingthewe.com.